As I argue in my book, Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism), maybe if there is a God, or if Jesus spoke truth about how we are to care for others or if the Light of Love in my life has taught me anything, then the best thing a believer in any actual God can do is to admit that a lot of the Bible is hate-filled blasphemy.
There is a verse in Timothy that says that all Scripture is for our edification. This verse, not the many Bible stories of the many killings "ordained by God," is the scariest verse in the Bible.
In Timothy (3:16) we read; "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
The "all Scripture" being spoken of is the Old Testament. The New Testament was just being written at the time. And these days, of course, for conservative Christians, the word "Scripture" covers "their" part of the Bible too.
How scary is this verse? Well, take every vile verse reeking of barbarity in the Bible and append the "All scripture is..." ending to it.
In this unsettling thought experiment for instance take St. Paul's New Testament "advice" to women: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." (1 Timothy 2:12) Then add, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." End of discussion! Be Silent!
"This is what the Lord Almighty says... 'Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'" (1 Samuel 15:3) "But Christ has changed all that mean stuff" the hopeful Evangelical says. Not so fast! "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
"So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, 'Get up; let's go.' But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home." (Judges 19:25-28) "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable..."
"Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel." (1 Peter 2:18) Say again? "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." And by the way, that pro-slavery teaching is a New Testament verse to boot!
When rape is sort of "condemned" in the Bible, a woman's rights aren't even mentioned. "If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife" (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). According to the Bible, the raped women are forced to marry the rapist and the only person made whole is her father! Never mind, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable..."
There is another choice besides rejecting religion outright or adopting an all-the-Bible-is-true fundamentalism, one too rarely made. The fact is too few religious people are willing to suffer the loss of approval by their religious leaders, friends and family to make this other choice: embrace faith in God by thinking for themselves and openly reject the parts of one's scriptures outright that fly in the face of fact, compassion and decency.
"But where would that leave me?" they ask. "I'd be adrift in an ocean of uncertainty!" they say. Yes, and perhaps that's the only honest place to be.
Maybe the actual God doesn't like -- or accept -- "The God-Of-The-Bible" any more than rational and compassionate people do. I hope that's true because if it's not then it turns out that most people are a lot nicer than their "God," which begs the question: Where did that niceness come from... if (that is) God created everything?
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